Sunday, April 25, 2010

You cannot step into the same river twice.

Today -

Yesterday -
4/24/10 -
4/23/10 -

OKLAHOMA - A swarm of rumblings this year in the state is shaking off misconceptions consigning earthquake tremors to the West Coast. The Oklahoma Geological Survey records more than 50 earthquakes a year in Oklahoma, which has always had small earthquakes, credited to periods when the land was stretched apart, Arbuckle mountains were pushed up and large basins developed. So far, the research group has charted 34 earthquakes in Oklahoma, including one on Feb. 27 in Lincoln County that reached a magnitude of 4.4, which is forceful enough to be felt indoors and rattle dishes and windows. Local scientists are scratching their heads to pinpoint the backstory to the shaking stir that’s rocked the state this year. “We’re not really certain,” they said of this year’s quake numbers, noting similarities to tremor occurrences in 2004. “It’s sort of the nature of earthquakes. They often cluster temporarily and then are quiet for awhile. It’s all within the realm of possibilities.”
There are likely faults deeply buried in the state where the latest rumblings have occurred, the trend of reported shakings is streaming through the middle of the state — mostly in Oklahoma, Lincoln and Canadian counties. The rumblings, however, can’t be linked to named faults, since they remain undetected below the Earth’s surface. “We don’t have a fault map we can put them on. We can’t see inside the Earth." The only time an earthquake in Oklahoma has ruptured the surface was along the Meers fault line, which runs west of Lawton. The last movement along this fault was 1,200 years ago, measuring a magnitude of 6 plus. The fault’s scarp — the displacement that occurred when its movement broke the Earth’s surface — happened in the 1980s. “If anyone was ever going to be afraid of a large earthquake coming somewhere, that’s the one. But that’s not likely.”
One theory is that there is a rift zone extending from the Great Lakes to Oklahoma, as the Midcontinent Rift remains narrow until it reaches the plains of Kansas, where it begins to spread into Oklahoma. Whether this scenario is true could be determined within the next few years as 400 seismometers, like the one buried near Tecumseh, are installed every 45 miles through the country, rotating to a new location every two years. The images, available on EarthScope’s Web site at, will be used to paint a three-dimensional, detailed picture of the Earth’s mantle to study the characteristics and origins of earthquakes and their faults, so scientists can better predict quakes. The devices already have disproved several scientists’ theories of faults in states like Washington, where the seismometers have ended their temporary stint. “We just have an incomplete history of these small earthquakes.”


ICELAND Volcano produced a RARE ‘dirty thunderstorm’ - While all the focus has been on Eyjafjallajokull's ash plume and its disruption of air travel, scientists have also been taking a closer look at the phenomenon called a “dirty thunderstorm.” A rare form of lightning was seen during the eruption that scientists still don’t fully understand. In a typical thunderstorm, lightning occurs when an electrical charge separation occurs (between negative and positive charges) which is great enough to overcome the poor conductivity of the air. Scientists have many theories on how this occurs. One popular theory is that a storm becomes electrified due to the collisions of ice particles and hail stones within the storm. Using that same logic, scientists think that the collision of ash particles (or of ash particles, water droplets and ice) during a volcanic eruption could produce a similar charge separation, which would result in the electrical discharge we see as lightning.
Volcanologists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory were able to collect some exceptional data on “dirty thunderstorms” back in January 2006. After volcanic lightning was observed during the eruption of Mount Augustine in Alaska, two electromagnetic lightning detectors were installed about 60 miles away. Just two days later, Augustine exploded with another four big eruptions. Though lightning was not observed visually, the lightning detectors recorded continuous radiation and bursts of lightning within the rock and ash as it rushed upward from the vent. About 3 minutes after the main explosion, another 300 lightning discharges were recorded.
A stunning new video shows the crater of the volcano and shockwaves exploding through the air as it erupts. Eyjafjallajokull sprang to life after nearly 200 years of quiet last month. After seeming to settle down, a larger eruption on Wednesday, April 14th occurred and sent ash, smoke and steam miles into the atmosphere. The ash cloud then moved over Europe where it disrupted air travel for millions across the globe. Images of the eruption have provided an incredible look into the life of a volcanic eruption. Perhaps most fascinating were the photos of volcanic-lightning. The new video, shot from an aircraft as it circles Eyjafjallajokull, clearly shows smoke, steam and ash being belched into the air. The explosive nature of the event is on full display as red lava is seen shooting up from the crater's hole. Most impressive are shockwaves that are clearly seen emanating with each explosion of lava. The cloud of steam, smoke and ash are visibly disturbed as the shockwave sends ripples through them.

Cyclone SEAN was 622 nmi W of Broome, Australia.

SEAN - Over the southern Indian Ocean, northwest of Australia and south of the Lesser Sunda Islands, Tropical Cyclone Sean spanned hundreds of kilometers in late April. The storm has a comma shape consistent with cyclones, but lacks a discernible eye. On April 23, Tropical Cyclone Sean had maximum sustained winds of 45 knots (85 kilometers per hour) and gusts up to 55 knots (100 kilometers per hour). The storm was located roughly 475 nautical miles (880 kilometers) north of Learmonth, Australia. Sean had traveled toward the southwest and will continue on that route before turning westward. The storm was expected to weaken over the next few days. (satellite image & map)


U.S. - A tornado, almost a mile wide, tore through central Mississippi over the weekend killing at least 10 people and decimating neighborhoods as it raked cities from the central western border with Louisiana northeastward to Alabama. It leveled a church, sheared roofs off houses, overturned cars and plunged large swaths of the state in darkness as it toppled power lines. The hardest-hit counties were Yazoo and Choctaw, Mississippi. Outside of those two counties, authorities had recorded at least 188 homes destroyed and 33 injuries.
In Eagle Lake, near the Louisiana border, about 30 homes were destroyed. In Holmes County, 50 homes sustained structural damage. Parts of three highways were closed due to downed trees and other damage. In all, 12 counties reported injuries. Mississippi residents reported that the path of the twister was a half-mile to a mile wide. The tornado had traveled 150 miles across Mississippi, starting in the western part of the state and moving northeast before weakening as it moved into Alabama. Early this morning, Alabama's emergency management officials confirmed a tornado touched down in Marshall County in the state's north. At least one mobile home park and some homes in Albertville were destroyed. Saturday's tornado was part of a broad band of storms that stretched from Missouri to the panhandle of Florida. Saturday's twister struck Louisiana before it moved into Mississippi. (videos)

INDIA - A giant tornado that ravaged hundreds of thousands of homes and killed 137 people has left one million people in eastern India without a roof over their heads. Packing a wind speed of 75 miles and hour, the storm raged for 40 minutes leaving a trail of destruction in West Bengal and neighbouring regions, Bihar and Assam last week. “It was like a cyclone with people shouting Cyclone Aila, which hit West Bengal last year. We prayed for early end of nature’s fury." More than 200,000 houses have been completely or badly damaged by the storm. And the very poorest families are most affected because they had thatched roofed houses. "Most people are living out in the open amid the wreckage of their homes."


H1N1 vaccine study investigating hints of complications from vaccine. - Federal health officials are investigating the first hints of any possible significant complications from the H1N1 vaccine, but stressed that the concerns will probably turn out to be a false alarm. The latest analysis of data has detected what could be a somewhat elevated rate of Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can cause paralysis and death; Bell's palsy, a temporary facial paralysis; and thrombocytopenia, which is a low level of blood platelets. The data is being collected through five of the networks the government is using to monitor people who were inoculated against the swine flu. Officials stressed that it is far too early to know whether the vaccine was increasing the risk of those conditions or whether there is some other explanation, such as doctors identifying more cases because of the intensive effort to pinpoint any safety problems with the vaccine. Even if the link with Guillain-Barrésyndrome is confirmed, the committee calculated the vaccine at most could be causing one extra case per 1 million people vaccinated. Even if the possible risks turn out to be real, officials stressed that the danger of the flu remains far greater. The vaccine was administered to 350 million to 400 million people worldwide, including as many as 80 million Americans, as part of an unprecedented response to the first flu pandemic in decades.
Although the vaccine was produced in record time, antiquated technology and unexpected problems growing the virus fast enough to produce the vaccine meant that most of the doses did not arrive until after the second wave of infections peaked last fall. That led to widespread anxiety, frustration and lines across the country as people scrambled to find the first doses. By the time most of the vaccine was ready, the second wave was already receding and demand fell sharply, leaving millions of doses unused. The relatively low number of deaths compared with previous pandemics and the millions spent on the vaccine have led to charges that the World Health Organization exaggerated the pandemic's risks. That prompted the Geneva-based arm of the United Nations to launch two investigations, which are ongoing.

Worldwide H1N1 activity remains low - Pandemic H1N1 remains at low levels in temperate regions of the world, with the most active areas in parts of west and central Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central America. Seasonal influenza B has become the predominant circulating flu virus across East Asia, central Africa, and northern and eastern Europe. Seasonal H3N2 is still being detected in south Asia, Indonesia, and several countries of west Africa, and eastern Europe.